The SWIB Podcast: Wisconsin Retirement System Insights-logo

The SWIB Podcast: Wisconsin Retirement System Insights

Business & Economics Podcasts

News and insights about the complex, prudent, and disciplined investment strategies the State of Wisconsin Investment Board has put in place to help grow and protect the assets of the Wisconsin Retirement System. Navigating today’s financial markets takes innovative thinking to design and implement investment strategies that control risk while generating reasonable returns. In a time when public pension funds across the country are struggling with issues related to underfunding, SWIB has helped fuel one of the only fully funded pension systems in the U.S. Join us as we talk about the importance of managing assets in a more challenging environment and optimizing cost over the long term on behalf of the more than 642,000 current and former state and local government employees and their families who rely on the WRS for some of their retirement security. SWIB is recognized as a premier investment organization because of its strong management of the trust funds of the WRS and several other smaller trust funds. SWIB has been successful in generating respectable returns to help ensure the WRS is able to meet its obligations today and in the future.

Location:

United States

Description:

News and insights about the complex, prudent, and disciplined investment strategies the State of Wisconsin Investment Board has put in place to help grow and protect the assets of the Wisconsin Retirement System. Navigating today’s financial markets takes innovative thinking to design and implement investment strategies that control risk while generating reasonable returns. In a time when public pension funds across the country are struggling with issues related to underfunding, SWIB has helped fuel one of the only fully funded pension systems in the U.S. Join us as we talk about the importance of managing assets in a more challenging environment and optimizing cost over the long term on behalf of the more than 642,000 current and former state and local government employees and their families who rely on the WRS for some of their retirement security. SWIB is recognized as a premier investment organization because of its strong management of the trust funds of the WRS and several other smaller trust funds. SWIB has been successful in generating respectable returns to help ensure the WRS is able to meet its obligations today and in the future.

Language:

English


Episodes

26. ‘It Ain’t Over Till It’s Over’: A Look Back at 2023 and Ahead to 2024 with SWIB ED/CIO Edwin Denson

1/31/2024
Yogi Berra once famously said, “It ain’t over till it’s over.” That was certainly true for financial markets in 2023. Just when it looked like many of the same issues that investors faced in 2022 would hold down returns, 2023 finished strong. Despite the challenges of the past year, the State of Wisconsin Investment Board remained committed to its long-term investment strategy that aims to keep annuity adjustments and contribution rates stable and deliver the benefits promised to over 675,000 Wisconsin Retirement System participants. In this episode of The SWIB Podcast, SWIB Executive Director and Chief Investment Officer Edwin Denson talks about the positive performance the WRS trust funds turned in for 2023 and what that means for annuity adjustments for the system’s retirees and contribution rates for active employees and their employers. Edwin discusses how he and his team navigated the unpredictable financial markets, what we might expect in the year ahead, and how SWIB is working to keep itself positioned as a leading global investor.

Duration:00:24:01

25. A Look into the Housing Market and SWIB’s MBS Portfolio

11/29/2023
The U.S. economy has shown remarkable resiliency despite many industry experts saying a recession is inevitable. The same cannot be said about the housing market. Home prices continue to climb, interest rates are near record highs, and home inventory is not matching homebuyer demand. It seems like the dream of owning a home is inching further out of reach for many Americans. In this episode of The SWIB Podcast, Leo Kropywiansky, senior portfolio manager on the Research Team in SWIB’s Asset & Risk Allocation Group, shares his thoughts on just how long the volatility facing the U.S. housing market might continue, when home prices could level off or even drop, and what impact the Federal Reserve’s efforts to tame inflation have had. And Mike Shearer, SWIB’s head of fixed income strategies, will provide insight on what all this means for SWIB’s mortgage-backed securities portfolio.

Duration:00:30:49

24. The State Investment Fund: Providing a Strong, Steady Economic Pillar for Wisconsin

9/21/2023
While the investment management of the fully funded Wisconsin Retirement System may be more well known, SWIB also manages several other smaller trust funds including the State Investment Fund or the SIF. The SIF is a pool of cash balances of various state and local governmental units created by state statute. In managing the SIF, SWIB works on behalf of local governments to manage approximately $3.5 billion in the Local Government Investment Pool (LGIP). SWIB makes world class investment expertise available to even the smallest municipalities by providing them a safe and liquid investment vehicle. In this episode of The SWIB Podcast, Andrea Ruiz, portfolio manager for the State Investment Fund talks about the role the SIF plays not only for local governments but also the WRS. Andrea will also talk about some of the challenges she and her team have had to navigate in 2023.

Duration:00:17:19

23. An In-Depth Look at the Economy Midway Through 2023, with Todd Mattina

6/23/2023
As we reach the midway point of 2023, investors continue to navigate a unique set of challenges that have caused, at times, volatile financial markets. Investors face concerns from geopolitical crises and supply chain issues, to inflation and rising interest rates and the ongoing possibility of a recession. The State of Wisconsin Investment Board has worked to meet the challenges head on. But what lies ahead for the second half of 2023? Will the Federal Reserve rethink its most recent decision to pause interest rate hikes? Will inflation start to ease? And will the U.S. face a a recession? In this episode of The SWIB Podcast, SWIB’s Head Economist and Asset and Risk Allocation Chief Investment Officer Todd Mattina talks about what all these headline grabbing issues mean for investors and the WRS. Todd shares his thoughts on the first half of 2023 and his perspective on what the economic outlook is for the remainder of the year.

Duration:00:38:44

22. How SWIB’s Venture Capital & Private Debt Portfolios Stay Well Positioned in Challenging Markets, with Chris Prestigiacomo

6/2/2023
Investors have been navigating challenging financial markets for the past several years. From stocks to bonds, asset classes have been impacted by high inflation, rising interest rates and the lingering effects of the pandemic. But were venture capital and private debt investments the exception? Chris Prestigiacomo oversees the state of Wisconsin investment boards, venture capital and private debt portfolios. Like other portfolio managers, Chris and his team have sought to limit the impact the volatile financial markets have had on his investment strategy while positioning his portfolios for continued success in the future. In this episode of The SWIB Podcast, we talk with Chris about how SWIB’s venture capital and private debt portfolios have weathered the market challenges, where the portfolios stand today, and what the future might bring given the current market conditions.

Duration:00:24:46

21. Finding the Best Ideas for Long-Term Success, with Susan Schmidt

3/22/2023
It's no secret that 2022 was a challenging year for the financial markets. There was nowhere to hide for investors looking to escape the volatility that impacted almost every asset class, including stocks. Following strong performance in 2021, the markets faced rising inflation that soared to 40-year highs, a series of unprecedented interest rate hikes, and fears that the country would be thrown into a recession. SWIB worked to navigate the volatility while seeking opportunities to keep the WRS well-positioned for the future. Because almost 50% of the Wisconsin Retirement System's Core Fund and all of the Variable Fund are invested in stocks, finding investment opportunities, even in a down market, is critical to SWIB’s investment strategy and the long-term success of the WRS. In this episode of The SWIB Podcast, we talk with Susan Schmidt, SWIB's Head of Public Equities. Susan shares her expertise and insight into the challenges investors faced in 2022 and what we might expect in the 2023 year ahead. Plus, she'll discuss the impetus behind the "best ideas" portfolio that her team manages, and how it helps position SWIB to deliver on its promise to members of the WRS.

Duration:00:22:16

20. Navigating Volatile Financial Markets: A Look Back at 2022 and Ahead to 2023 with SWIB ED/CIO Edwin Denson

1/26/2023
The past year presented a unique set of challenges for investors navigating volatile financial markets. Investors faced concerns from geopolitical crises and supply chain issues, to the great resignation and the Federal Reserve raising interest rates several times in an effort to counter the highest inflation in four decades. Despite the challenges of 2022, the State of Wisconsin Investment Board remained committed to its long-term investment strategy that aims to keep annuity adjustments and contribution rates stable, and meet the benefits promised to over 660,000 Wisconsin Retirement System participants. So how did SWIB's strategy weather the volatility of the past year, and what trends will continue to shape the 2023 landscape? In this episode of The SWIB Podcast, we welcome back SWIB Executive Director and Chief Investment Officer Edwin Denson. We'll talk to Edwin about what he and his team experienced in the past year as they negotiated these choppy markets. We'll also speak about some of the global events that made headlines and impacted investors in 2022 and discuss what to expect as we start the new year.

Duration:00:24:26

19. How SWIB’s Strong Corporate Governance Program Benefits the WRS, with Sara Chandler and Tom Robinson

12/14/2022
SWIB owns stock in over 6,000 public companies across the globe at any given moment. As a shareholder, SWIB is focused on the long-term economic interests of the companies it invests in. In addition to a company's economic health, solid products, a strong customer base, and a growing market share, SWIB is also concerned about accountability, transparency, and alignment, hallmarks of a company that is doing things the right way. Broadly, corporate governance refers to a company's processes and structures that are aimed at ensuring this type of effective oversight. SWIB's corporate governance program utilizes various methods to evaluate and influence companies along these dimensions in order to improve long term shareholder value. In this episode of the SWIB podcast, we take a look at SWIBs corporate governance program, including the policies used to analyze its domestic and international proxy votes, and how those policies benefit the Wisconsin Retirement System.

Duration:00:14:26

18. Peering into the Future to Keep the WRS Positioned for Success, with GRS Actuaries Jim Anderson and Brian Murphy

10/5/2022
The Wisconsin Retirement System is one of the few fully funded public pensions in the country, thanks in part to SWIB’s strong investment management. Because of the unique shared risk design of the WRS, investment returns directly impact annuity adjustments for retirees and contribution rates for employees and employers. The challenge is finding the right balance between taking enough risk to make sure the WRS is providing the benefits promised to its participants while avoiding taking too much risk that could cause volatile swings in those annuity adjustments and contribution rates. By implementing a sophisticated investment strategy, SWIB has helped position the WRS for a strong future, despite the volatility that has been a part of the financial markets over the past couple years. But, staying well-positioned means constantly re-evaluating and preparing for what the future might bring In this episode of The SWIB Podcast, we talk to Brian Murphy and Jim Anderson, actuaries from Gabriel, Roeder, Smith and Company (GRS). We will hear how they help SWIB and the Department of Employee Trust Funds to peer into the future and keep the WRS on track for success and how GRS helps SWIB conduct robust stress testing of the system to evaluate and strengthen its investment returns.

Duration:00:26:17

17. Mid-Year Market Update: Finding Stability in Volatility, with Edwin Denson & Leo Kropywiansky

8/31/2022
Volatility is a word that has become all too common in the last couple years when talking about the financial markets. Over the past two years, the pandemic has been a big economic story driving both monetary and fiscal policy. While the pandemic continues to create hurdles, new concerns are grabbing headlines. From supply chain issues to the great resignation, to the highest inflation rate in four decades, investors have to navigate volatile economic waters. As the Federal Reserve seeks to put the right policies in place to combat the economic challenges investors are facing, SWIB is also keeping a close eye on what it means for short and long-term impacts on the Wisconsin Retirement System. In this episode of The SWIB Podcast, we talk to SWIB Executive Director and Chief Investment Officer Edwin Denson, and Leo Kropywiansky, a senior portfolio manager with SWIB's asset and risk allocation division, about what these headline grabbing issues mean for the WRS. We get an update on how the trust funds are performing midway through 2022 and what to expect for the rest of the year and beyond.

Duration:00:35:18

16. An Inside Look at SWIB's Real Estate Portfolio with Anne-Marie Fink & Jason Rothenberg

7/20/2022
Office buildings, warehouses, and apartment complexes dot the landscape from coast-to-coast. They are common landmarks that we usually pass by every day without a second thought. We know these brick and mortar spaces are important to a thriving economy, but what might surprise you is how important they are to SWIB’s investment strategy. SWIB’s real estate portfolio helps diversify the Core Trust Fund and has generated an impressive track record of investment performance, which has greatly benefited the Wisconsin Retirement System, helping to keep it fully funded and well positioned to deliver on its promise to over 652,000 participants. In this episode of The SWIB Podcast, we are going to look at how SWIB’s real estate portfolio plays an important part in SWIB’s asset allocation. We will talk to Private Markets and Funds Alpha Chief Investment Officer Anne-Marie Fink and Jason Rothenberg, head of real estate, about the history behind SWIB’s real estate portfolio, the types of investments being made, and what the outlook is for the remainder of this year and beyond.

Duration:00:23:01

15. How Technology is Transforming the Portfolio Management Process at SWIB, with Nick Stanton and Derek Drummond

4/27/2022
We live in a world full of technology; faster computers, smart phones, and cars that can drive and park themselves are all part of the world that is becoming more reliant on technology. Like every other industry, the financial sector has been touched by these changing times. The relationship between data, technology and human talent is key to the successful incorporation of these trends in active portfolio management. Investment managers are constantly enhancing the technology they use to stay on the cutting edge of an industry that is changing at a rapid pace. The State of Wisconsin Investment Board is no different. But what does this technology look like? How does it help investment management staff make the right decisions to help the Wisconsin Retirement System meet its goals? In this episode of the SWIB Podcast, we're going to hear how SWIB is growing the technology it uses to support the increasingly complex internal strategies designed to add value for the benefit of WRS participants. We talk to two SWIB portfolio managers, Nick Stanton and Derek Drummond, about how they use technology and how it helps them work smarter to generate returns, managed risk and keep the WRS among the only fully funded pensions in the country.

Duration:00:22:08

14. Pensionomics: How the WRS Provides a Strong Economic Pillar for Wisconsin, with NIRS Executive Director Dan Doonan

3/9/2022
The Wisconsin Retirement System (WRS) was created 40 years ago to help protect public employees and their beneficiaries against the financial hardships of old age and disability, to attract and retain a qualified public workforce, establish modest benefits, and achieve administrative savings. There is no doubt that the WRS has done that and more over the last four decades. But, the WRS, as one of the only fully funded public pension systems in the country, is more than just a retirement benefit for state and local government employees. It also provides a strong, steady economic pillar for the entire state. Economic gains attributable to defined benefit pensions like the WRS are substantial. Benefits paid by state and local pension plans support a significant amount of economic activity that ripples through the economy, creating a multiplier effect as one person’s spending becomes another person’s income. In Wisconsin, more than 85% of WRS pensions go to retirees living in Wisconsin who purchase goods and services and pay taxes. In this episode, we talk to Dan Doonan, executive director of the National Institute on Retirement Security, a non-profit research and education organization established to contribute to informed policymaking by fostering a deep understanding of the value of retirement security to employees, employers, and the economy as a whole. Dan shares some insights about what he calls "Pensionomics," and some recent studies his organization has conducted that show just how crucial the WRS and other defined benefit plans like it are to their local economic ecosystems.

Duration:00:22:08

13. Looking Back at 2021 and Forward to 2022 with SWIB ED/CIO Edwin Denson

1/28/2022
The beginning of a new year is a time to reflect on the year gone by and look forward to what lies ahead. In 2021, the financial markets saw ongoing volatility caused by COVID-19 while the Federal Reserve continued with the policies it put in place to combat the economic effect of the pandemic. Interest rates, inflation, and supply chain backlogs were all topics that grabbed headlines throughout the year. But in the end, SWIB remained committed to its long-term investment strategy for the Wisconsin Retirement System and generated strong investment returns, which are expected to deliver annuity increases to members and continuing contribution stability for employees and employers. In this episode, SWIB Executive Director and Chief Investment Officer Edwin Denson looks back on a successful year and lays the groundwork for building on that success in 2022.

Duration:00:18:59

12. Exploring the Innovative Strategies that SWIB is Deploying to Generate Returns for the WRS

12/20/2021
Innovation has always been critical to the State of Wisconsin Investment Board’s (SWIB’s) success. As assets under management continue to grow, and the investment industry and the world continue to change, SWIB is positioning itself for the future, finding innovative ways to invest the public pension funds and help secure the financial futures of the people who rely on the Wisconsin Retirement System (WRS). Last year, SWIB continued to look forward when it launched two new internal alternative fixed income strategies. The new Mortgage Backed Securities and High Yield Portfolios are designed to target less efficient segments of the market. In addition, SWIB partnered with three North American public pension plans to create the Global Peer Financing Association, an innovative nonprofit investment group focused on peer-to-peer securities financing opportunities. In this episode of the podcast, we talk about these innovative initiatives, find out more about how they fit into SWIB’s overall investment strategy for the WRS, and learn how they are keeping SWIB at the leading edge of institutional investing. We're joined by Mike Shearer, SWIB’s head of alternative fixed income strategies; Dave Jordan, SWIB’s high yield portfolio manager; and Chris Benish, a managing analyst in SWIB’s Asset & Risk Allocation Division.

Duration:00:23:18

11. 70 Years of Service: A Look Back at the History of the State of Wisconsin Investment Board

10/28/2021
This year, the State of Wisconsin Investment Board (SWIB) is celebrating 70 years of service to the state of Wisconsin. A lot has changed over the past 70 years. And, while our world has and continues to change, one thing that has remained a constant is SWIB’s commitment to helping provide retirement security for hundreds of thousands of current and former state and local government employees and their families, who rely on the Wisconsin Retirement System (WRS). Since its creation in 1951, SWIB has grown into a premier asset manager recognized around the world for its innovation and success, strong leadership, dedicated staff, and a forward-thinking culture. In this episode, we're going to talk with Rochelle Klaskin, SWIB's deputy executive director and chief administrative officer, as we look back at how a unique partnership led to the creation of SWIB. Hear how, with the help of government leaders and system participants, SWIB has over the past seven decades met the challenges posed by a vastly changing investment industry to keep the WRS among the only fully funded public pension systems in the country. We'll also look ahead at what SWIB’s next 70 years might hold.

Duration:00:21:17

10. SWIB's New Executive Director and CIO Edwin Denson Charts a Steady Course for the WRS

8/25/2021
Excellence, innovation, integrity, collaboration, and people. Those are the core values at the heart of SWIB’s mission to the members of the Wisconsin Retirement System (WRS). Edwin Denson, SWIB’s new executive director and chief investment officer, is using those core values to build on SWIB’s already strong foundation as one of the country’s premier investment managers. Edwin joined SWIB in 2018 as the managing director of asset and risk allocation, responsible for risk analysis, allocation and oversight, asset allocation, passive portfolio and leverage implementation, macroeconomic analysis, and fund level investment strategies. After arriving at SWIB, Edwin worked to more than double the asset and risk allocation staff to help build out innovative investment strategies for the WRS. In April, the Board of Trustees appointed Edwin to lead SWIB. Now, he is using his wealth of experience in both public and private sector asset management to continue to move the agency forward and deliver results for the WRS. In this episode, we will get to know SWIB’s new leader a little bit better and hear what’s in store under his direction.

Duration:00:32:28

9. Strong Governance Keeps SWIB Positioned for Success, with Board of Trustees Chair David Stein

6/14/2021
As an institution, SWIB has had to adapt and overcome significant challenges over the last year — among them, frenetic markets, the workplace disruption of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the passing of SWIB's former executive director and chief investment officer David Villa. But through it all, SWIB has continued to serve members of the Wisconsin Retirement System at a high level, due in large part to the unique governance structure that positions SWIB as a global leader in public pension asset management. In this episode, we discuss how SWIB's nine-member, independent board of trustees supports the solid foundation of leadership that makes SWIB’s success possible with Board of Trustees Chair David Stein. We talk to David about the search for and recent appointment of SWIB's new Executive Director and Chief Investment Officer Edwin Denson, the board's vision for the future, and how strong governance is keeping SWIB well-positioned for the future.

Duration:00:31:17

8. Running the Long Race with Derek Drummond, SWIB's Funds Alpha Portfolio Manager

4/8/2021
Competing under challenging circumstances is nothing new for Derek Drummond. As a triathlete who competes in several events throughout the year, including Madison’s Iron Man competition, Derek challenges himself through tough endurance races with hopes of establishing a personal best time. Derek’s competitive spirit carries over into his work. As SWIB’s funds alpha manager, Derek is constantly pushing himself and his team to find investments across traditional and alternative strategies that will benefit the Wisconsin Retirement System and its over 650,000 members. Being an investment professional and a tri-athlete requires the ability to think clearly under pressure, draw on information from past experiences, and excel under difficult and changing conditions. In this episode, we talk to Derek about just what alpha generation is and why it is important to SWIB’s sophisticated investment strategy. We also ask Derek what makes 2021 an interesting investing climate, and what are the largest opportunities and threats he sees on the horizon.

Duration:00:30:28

7. Managing Directors Round Table, with Edwin Denson, Brian Hellmer, and Anne-Marie Fink

3/2/2021
In 2020, the State of Wisconsin Investment Board (SWIB) remained committed to its long-term investment strategy, resulting in strong returns for the Wisconsin Retirement System (WRS), even in a challenging year. The Core Fund, the larger of the two WRS trust funds with more than $120 billion in assets, ended the year with a net return of just above 15%. The Core Fund's 5- and 10-year returns both exceeded the pension system's actuarial target. The great news for WRS participants is that exceeding the pension fund’s 7% target return for both the 5- and 10-year periods is expected to result in continued stability in employer and employee contribution rates and a positive annuity adjustment for retirees of around 5%. In this episode, we hear from Edwin Denson, SWIB's managing director of asset and risk allocation; Anne-Marie Fink, the managing director of private markets and funds alpha; and Brian Hellmer, managing director of global public market strategies, about their perspective on SWIB’s success in 2020 and what we might expect in the 2021 year ahead.

Duration:00:31:02